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From the pages of Spleen, The Angry Little Humor Zine ¥ Number 6 (P.O. Box 8122, Las Vegas, NV 89119; $1 per issue)

You Say Congo, I Say Zaire

By David Guhlow

These two countries in central Africa have gone through more name changes than Liz Taylor. If you're keeping score at home, here's the Congography through the decades:

The western "little" Congo:

French Congo (pre-1960)

The Congo Republic (1960-70)

The People's Republic of the Congo (1970-91)

The Republic of the Congo (1991-present)

The eastern "big" Congo:

Belgian Congo (pre-1960)

The Republic of the Congo (1960-64)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (1964-71)

Zaire (1971-97)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (again) (1997-present)

Man, talk about a creative slump. Don't they have marketing consultants over there? Someone should have at least trademarked "Congo" by now.

In 1971, President Mobutu Sese Seko, fed up with having his mail sent to the wrong Congo, changed his country's name to Zaire, and all was well for a while until this past May, when rebel leader Laurent Kabila ousted Mobutu and changed the name back again, creating still more jobs for the booming mapmaking industry.

Kabila went back to the old name because he wanted to rid the country of Mobutu's influences. Fair enough, but there was nothing wrong with the name "Zaire." It was the only name out of the bunch with any pizzazz. I've always liked "Z" names, they sound kinda cool. Yeah, they have to march in the back of the Olympic parade, but if that was the issue, Kabila could have changed the name to "Aardvark."

Perhaps we could refer to the two Congos as one entity, like the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Like so:

Coke and Pepsi Congo

National and American Congo

Wales and Campbell Congo

Sacco and Vanzetti Congo

For you aspiring African dictators, there are still plenty of Congo nation combinations:

The People's Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Zaire Republic of the Congo

The Congo Republic of the Congo

The Congo Republic of the People

The Congo Republic of the People's Republic of the Congo

The Poulan-Weedeater Republic of the Congo

Steven Spielberg Presents: Congo!

Congo II: Congo's Revenge

The Mighty Ducks of the Congo

The Country Formerly Known as Zaire

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Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Spleen zine cover.

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